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First-time NEDs

4 tips to help you land your first Non-Executive Director Role

non-executive director

This week, NEDonBoard welcomes Kathryn Eade to its blog to give recommendations to individual professionals aspiring to the boardroom on how to secure your first non-executive director role.

You’ve been thinking about maybe becoming a NED, but not sure how to go about landing that first role? I was recently part of the NEDonBoard / TechManchester event held in November 2019 at which I had the benefit of hearing from 13 experts sharing their experience of what it takes to become the ultimate NED.

Here’s 4 tips to get you started:

  1. Don’t underestimate what you can contribute: The role of a Non-Executive Director is to supervise and steer the board. They’re looking for people who can assimilate a lot of information as quickly as possible and are comfortable asking challenging questions. Boards need people with different expertise, with a diversity of perspective, people with excellent emotional intelligence and above all common sense. As long as you have an area of expertise, which we all do, you don’t need to be highly experienced. It’s about being able to impart your knowledge to support others to do the job.
  2. Network – getting your first NED position is always the hardest and it’s all about exposure – who you know, not necessarily what you know, so be prepared to get yourself out there. Start to talk to people about where you can add value and what you are looking for. Connect in with organisations like NEDonBoard for events to meet and talk to others already doing the role and find out what types of role there are out there.
  3. Skill up – this may mean you need to take on some voluntary role first whilst you cut you teeth. Look inside your organisation for governance type roles – committees you can sit on and strategic groups you can be part of. Volunteer for organisations in your network – become a parent governor for example at your local school. You may also want to consider observing another NED in action to see if this is really for you. Visit the NEDonBoard jobs board to search for opportunities.
  4. Get clear on where you can and want to add value: What area can you provide insights in? Is finance your thing, or are you more about people? Do you have experience as a mentor or coach? Do have a network in a particular sector that you can link the organisation or business up with? Are you interested in the public, private or charity sector, mid-size business, start ups, or CICs? The more you can hone your offer and be clear on your cause, the more likely you are to land your perfect NED role.

Kathryn Eade is a leading professional in Entrepreneurial Mindset and Director of Up+thrive. Working as a Coach, Business Strategist and Board Advisor supporting businesses to grow. With a passion to provide entrepreneurs and female aspiring leaders with the tools to gain the power, drive and control they need to build their business from the inside out, from overwhelm and burnout to sustainable success.


For more information about our programmes and events to confidently and successfully transition to the boardroom, contact [email protected]. We encourage you to visit the NED Accelerator Programme page as well as watch our free webinar How to secure your first NED role.